Ivory Coast: Tensions around cocoa

The world cocoa prices, which fell from CFA 1,800 to CFA 1200, have a negative impact on the Ivorian treasury. For producers, the blow is rude, CFA 700 instead of CFA 1100. On a meeting on March 30, the representatives of the Coffee-Cocoa Council, though listening to their members’ concerns, are still struggling to find solutions. Report

« Dear producers and stakeholders, I know this price is not commensurate with your efforts, » acknowledged Lambert Kouassi Konan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Coffee-Cocoa Council, The CCC, recognizing a relatively-weak profession, the chairman also showed pedagogy to explain price fluctuations.

Economic and political causes

Nobody could imagine a decline in cocoa prices of which the country is the largest world producer (+1,500,000 tons, 40% of the world market). It provides 41% of GDP and is the backbone of the budget in the Ivory Coast.

In question, according to the Chairman of the CCC, Lambert Kouassi Konan, « a peak of arrivals from November 14 to December 31 with 588,258 tons against 476,649 tons in 2015-2016, that is, 111,609 tons; a phase shift between the arrivals and the distribution of export contracts which resulted in 39% of production being congested by exporters’ warehouses; insufficient cash due to price instability in the international market » and « the impact of persistent rumors about a drop in producer prices. »

In addition to these economic data, the CCC also recalls the political context of the past few months. For the Chairman, « the military events » of January and February 2017″ have negatively impacted cocoa marketing. »

Losses for professionals and for the government

In Duékoué, the Manager of UCO-Coopca (Union of cooperators), Roland Marcel Angahi pointed out the planters’ challenges. As he explains, they are obliged to go into debt while they have millions of CFA francs of arrears. Their financial losses are also related to the length of time the trucks are stuck in ports due to the sector’s difficulties.

« For example, a producer came to see me for a loan to look after his brother – a victim of gunshot wounds during a robbery in Tahalby Glode village – about three weeks ago. The chief of village in the Lucienkro camp, Duékoué Subdivision, also came for a loan of CFA 150,000. Even myself, my truck had been blocked at San-Pedro Port for more than two weeks, representing a loss of CFA 2,000,000 where I should spend CFA 700,000 at most, » he says.

Anxiety and impotence

Planter and Member of the Parliament, Obed Blondé Doua, chairman of a Union in Man, says that « for more than 15 days, the buyers no longer take stocks of products and are waiting for the new price.” For the latter, this expectation, which blocks the sector, « will really be a shortfall for producers. »

But as the professionals’ concerns seem to be justified, Obed Blondé Doua regretfully points out an impotent CCC: « unfortunately, the coffee-cocoa board has no means to enforce the prices, though it has the cash, the power … »

As for the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CCC, he points out the government which, according to him, loses « over CFA 43 billion » as the fluctuations impact upon the country’s economy. This loss could have medium-term consequences on Alassane Ouattara’s political and development projects…

Author: Issiaka N’GUESSAN//Photos: Round table of the Coffee-cocoa Council, Lambert Kouassi Konan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CCC © Issiaka N’GUESSAN

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